Better late than never…
It’s still September & September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
A few quick facts about childhood cancer to help paint a picture:
- 36 children are diagnosed with cancer every day in the US alone.
- 13,500 children under the age of 19 are diagnosed in the US each year.
- the average age of diagnosis is 6 years old.
- the average length of treatment for childhood cancer is 2 years (much longer than adult treatment courses).
- the leading childhood cancer is ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia).
- Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region. In the United States, the incidence of cancer among adolescents and young adults is increasing at a greater rate than any other age group, except those over 65 years.
- childhood cancer claims more children’s lives than AIDS, asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis & other congenital anomalies combined
- incidences of childhood cancer is increasing, but overall survivorship is increasing as well as research and treatments expand & improve.
Expanding research and improvements in treatments can only be made possible with help from people like you & I. There’s no need to limit this help to the month of September, we can help all year round. There are a variety of children’s cancer foundations and organizations that you can link to below. You can donate blood or platelets or register to donate bone marrow through the Be The Match registry. There are an overwhelming number of charitable organizations in your area as well that accept donations of socks, blankets, hats, books, games, etc. for children with cancer & families of these children. Do a Google search & see what you find.
Remember, often times these children are too young to realize what is happening around them but it is extremely difficult for their family & friends. Often, these beautiful little fighters are the ray of sunshine & hope that keep Mom & Dad smiling & get them through the day. So remember, not only can we support the kids, but their families too.
I recently had the chance to photograph a benefit for an amazing little girl, Fiona, & the Friends of Fiona Benefit will be a day that stays with me forever. I actually went to summer camp with Fiona’s mother when I was younger, but I learned of Fiona through a mutual friend on Facebook. Fiona is 3 years old & was diagnosed with ALL. Fiona was in the midst of chemo so due to her compromised immune system she wore a mask at her benefit. But don’t let that mask fool you… Fiona’s eyes say it all. Whether she was mesmerized by Captain Hook (one of her faves) or laughing while dancing with friends or smiling at Mom & Dad (Carrie & Matt) or puzzled trying to figure out who the lady is who keeps taking her pictures her eyes spoke volumes and it reminds you that Fiona is not just a cancer patient, she’s a vibrant, fun & loving 3 year old that would steal your heart with or without that hat & mask. When you look into the eyes of these children you don’t see cancer, you see innocence & hope.
But as I said, childhood cancer affects the whole family. While the benefit was successful, the medical bills are substantial & the sacrifice the family has made to care for Fiona leaves them still needing our help. So please consider visiting the Friends of Fiona page & donating to the Cross Family.
Links where you can learn about Childhood Cancer & how you can help:
- American Childhood Cancer Organization http://www.acco.org
- Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation http://www.jeffgordonchildrensfoundation.org
- St Jude Children’s Research Hospital http://www.stjude.org
- The National Children’s Cancer Society http://www.nationalchildrenscancersociety.com
- People Against Childhood Cancer (PAC2) http://www.curechildhoodcancer.ning.com
Keeping in mind that ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) is the most diagnosed childhood cancer & September 2012 is also National Blood Cancer Awareness Month… a great way to help both causes is to join the Be The Match national bone marrow registry.
In recent months you may have read more about Be The Match as ABC news anchor Robin Roberts underwent a bone marrow transplant from her sister recently. She has partnered with Be The Match and the numbers of those on the registry has grown, but you could still join too. You may be the match for a 3 year old girl with ALL or a 52 year old man with CML or a 16 year old boy with a rare blood disorder. The point is you can only help save a life if you are on the registry. It takes a few minutes to swab your cheek so please consider joining by ordering a kit online today. You can also support Robin and Be The Match by visiting Be The Match’s shop & purchasing this bracelet.
So as September draws to a close & fall is here, please consider helping in the fight against childhood cancer & blood cancer. October will be pink with breast cancer awareness, but lets not forget about the children & keep the yellow ribbons on our arms & in our hearts year round.